Company to Pay $400,000 for Firing Older Dockworkers
Transportation company Central Freight Lines, Inc., agreed to pay $400,000 to eight former dockworkers to settle an age-discrimination suit brought by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which charged the company with violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In addition to paying the $400,000, the company also agreed to enforce a written policy against age discrimination and to train managers and supervisors on equal employment opportunity policies and procedures.
According to the lawsuit, the company fired the eight dockworkers, using a reduction in force as a ruse, and then replaced them with younger workers. Some of the fired dockworkers had been at the company for more than 20 years. The company, according to the lawsuit, also changed its attendance and disciplinary policies in order to make the men, who had few disciplinary problems in the past, eligible to be fired under the new policies.
The ADEA prohibits discrimination against employees age 40 or older in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, layoffs and pay. It is also illegal to harass employees over 40 because of their age when the harassment is so severe or frequent that it creates a hostile work environment.
An EEOC spokesperson said, “Central Freight treated these experienced dockworkers like they were expendable. This case shows that EEOC will remain vigilant in our protection of older workers.” The EEOC also warned that while “[r]eductions in force are unfortunately not unusual in tough economic times…[t]he costs that can result from age discrimination can lead to yet a heavier load to bear.”
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